Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy Arbor Day from Valley Irrigation!

Tomorrow, we celebrate Arbor Day, the holiday about planting trees! Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska in the 1880s. For more history and fun facts about Arbor Day, visit

We're celebrating Arbor Day by sharing with YOU our most cherished "tree" memories!

My first year of being married, my wife insisted we cut down our own Christmas tree. I had never done this as a kid, as we always bought one pre-cut at the lot. So we cut down this tree, bring it home, and put it up. It is the shortest, fattest tree ever – a total disaster (maybe a miscalculation on my part). In addition to that, for one month straight, it made this weird "clicking" sound at night and freaked us out. We kept thinking something was alive in it. So, next year, I bought an artificial tree and let the real ones continue to grow in the wild!

- Matt Ondrejko, VP Global Marketing
As I find myself more and more becoming that grouchy old man who yells at the neighborhood kids to “Keep off my lawn, dagnabbit!”, I occasionally find my memory taking me back in time to when I was in their shoes. I hope all of you have many happy memories from childhood; it isn’t that they get you through life, but they can be little “sweet spots” during the day when they come to mind. This Arbor Day, perhaps you, too, remember a favorite tree or woodland. For me, two trees come to mind. One is the white birch tree at my grandparents’ farm. We climbed it often, and the curling white bark was kind of wondrous to me. I still associate that tree with many fond memories of that place and those times.

The other was a large pin oak growing in a vacant lot near my house in my home town. It, too, was a “climber”; not just for me but for the entire neighborhood. It naturally became a competition to see who could (and would) climb to the highest spot before your nerve failed. For an eight-year-old kid, it seemed that you could see clear into the neighboring state from up there. Of course, it also taught the importance of keeping a grip—sometimes, the “hard way”!

- Kelly Downing, Global Irrigation Specialist

I personally would not call myself a green thumb, but I do very much like my plants, and of course, my trees. Having only recently moved into a home that actually has its own yard (but no trees), my husband and I have proceeded to invest in some trees to spruce up the lot. Since we really, really like our trees, we have also proceeded to name each one, so now we have our two apple trees, Ohayo and Gozaimasu (think “Good Morning” in Japanese), a plum tree named Woody, and our lilac tree, Lilia. 

However, my prides and joys (can a tree owner play favorites? Is that totally unfair?) are Valentine and Sally, my lemon and Satsuma (like a mandarin orange) trees. Valentine was my very first tree, purchased 6 years ago (on Valentine’s day, thus the name) during World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA. Since this show is in February every year, and I live in Nebraska, I had to protect Valentine when I got off the plane in snowy, cold Omaha by carrying him under my coat. Like a proud parent, I couldn't believe my eyes when, within the first year, little Valentine produced a lemon, which was quite tasty, I might add. Since then, Valentine has grown to be as tall as me, but has failed to produce another lemon. Sometime I get sad, sometimes frustrated, but I continue to fertilize and trim Valentine back in the hopes that next year, he will bloom and shower me with a windfall of lemons. Now, Sally, on the other hand, is producing Satsumas like crazy – three are growing right now, and there are 10 more buds that have recently turned into fruit. So while I will continue to love and tend to Valentine, I will be able to bask in the sweet fruit that Sally has produced…someday…if the fruit ever ripen! 

So now, if anyone has any wise advice on how to make Valentine bloom and produce lemons, I am all ears!

- Michelle Stolte, Global Marketing Manager

I will never forget Christmas 1995, the setting for my tree tale. Like many girls my age that holiday season, Santa gave me a Kitty Surprise! For those of you unfamiliar with this toy, or have blocked it from your memory, Kitty Surprise! was a stuffed cat toy that had a hollow stomach held together by a piece of Velcro. Obviously, the "Kitty" in Kitty Surprise! is the plush cat I just mentioned, but the "Surprise" was the kittens that came in the cat's stomach...that's right. I was a very lucky girl - my cat came with 5 kittens, which was the most that could come with the toy (though, I later found out that it was all a scam, as my 3 friends who all received Puppy Surprise! also had 5 babies in the weird, hollow stomach of their toys).  

My Aunt Susan found this toy to be both hilarious and awful. So, when I wasn't looking, she "catnapped" Kitty Surprise! and all of her kittens. Kitty Surprise! made it out safely, but the kittens...well, my Aunt Susan hid them in our Christmas tree. I looked around my house for hours until I found the kittens hanging on for dear life in the Christmas tree, which was dangerously leaning to one side, thanks to our cat (a real cat) Jasmine using it as a hiding spot...and Jasmine wasn't a small cat, by any means.

- Kelly Cox, Global Digital Marketing Manager

Do you have a memory of a tree you'd like to share? We'd like to hear it! Click on the Comments box below to share your story. Happy Arbor Day, everyone!